The Strange Ones

I spent last Saturday in Atlanta with my wife, our kids, a friend from Africa, Batman, and thousands of college football fans.  Oh, and the people that were in town for black gay pride weekend.  I almost forgot about them.

My plan was to have a family picnic in the middle of the city and then show our friend a few sites.  Looking back, this wasn’t such a great plan.

It wasn’t until I drove up to a busy intersection that I remembered that Dragon Con was in town.  If you’re not familiar with Dragon Con, it’s a convention where people dress up like their favorite comic book heroes.  It seems like a great event for kids.  But I didn’t see many kids.  Instead there was the 20 something girl dressed up as Robin.  And the grown man dressed up in a camouflage dress.  I’m guessing he was supposed to be Camouflage Man.  Or perhaps Camouflage Woman.  Whatever.

Once we were able to drive through the Dragon Con traffic we entered a new set of congestion.  The night before, Tennessee played North Carolina State at the Georgia Dome.  Later on, Clemson would play Auburn.  This meant that there were a lot of people wearing orange overalls.  This, it turns out, was as equally as disturbing as the guy in the camouflage dress.

Before heading home, we decided to visit the mall.  That would also happen to be the mall where hundreds of people who were in town for black gay pride weekend decided to do some shopping.  We figured this out when we walked in and saw all of the men with pink mohawks wearing women’s jeans.

Our family friend from Africa was shocked.

“Aren’t these people afraid to come out in public dressed like this?  People will think they are strange.”

I told him that, in here, we were the strange ones.

In just one afternoon in the city of Atlanta, I saw hundreds of people dressed up like superheroes, hundreds of people dressed in support of their favorite college football team and hundreds of men with pink mohawks wearing women’s jeans.  Officials with the city of Atlanta would probably brag about this.  They would point to this as an example of how diverse their city is.

But is it really?  After all, the college football fans in orange overalls weren’t mingling with the men dressed up like Luke Skywalker.  This is how diversity works with political and cultural leaders.  What they are usually saying when they tell us to “be ourselves” or “pursue diversity” is to find your group, fall in line and don’t say anything about one of the other groups.

Thankfully, the gospel gives me a better alternative.  I saw it on display the following Sunday night at my church.

A girl from an orphanage in Uganda sang a song that she wrote about God hearing her prayers.  She sang it for us but not as a solo.  She sang it with a white man from south Georgia.  They each come from very different backgrounds but they were joined together by a common bond.

Because of Jesus’ death on their behalf, they have a Father who hears their prayers.  They have a Savior who prays for them.  They have the Holy Spirit, taking their prayers to the Father.

That’s the beauty of the Church.  In the small church that I pastor there are men with very different political opinions.  There are women who work from home and homeshcool their kids and their are women who work outside of the home and send their kids to public school.

None of these groups are divided by city blocks.

They are united by the cross of Jesus Christ.

In the world, they are the strange ones.

I’m thankful to be one of the strange ones.